It seems the good Saint Ermin of Lobbes was a man of wisdom and sanctity and a bit of a dab hand at a prophecy or two. Rather fitting then that I happened to be visiting St. Ermin’s Hotel on his Saint Day (25th April for future reference) and even more apt, it was at one time the preferred meeting place for top British secret service types including SIS and MI5, who, through their own acts of wisdom could predict more than a thing or two themselves.
So, striding into the St Ermin’s Hotel stunningly white Art Nouveau lobby, I was fully expecting to see a few shady characters peering down from the ornate balconies above me. My senses were on full alert. Was that a real concierge or a just someone pretending… ask him an insightful question about concierge stuff just to be sure I thought to myself, but instead I strode on to check in.
With no password to utter, I just give out my name rank and serial number, and get a delightful smile from St Ermin’s reception staff who I have no doubt have heard it all before.
St. Ermin’s is an absolute gem of a luxury hotel tucked away in a horseshoe shaped Grade II listed mansion building in London’s charming St. James Park. In a world where star ratings are banded about like confetti, it is rare to find a hotel providing 5 star style and service in every department except its own official 4 star rating. A fact not lost on the owners, who clearly understand that top drawer service at 4 star prices is a formula for success.
Each of the 330 guestrooms and suites have something a little different about them; a legacy of 19th century architecture, the shape, the light, the views. But that’s where the past rightfully pauses to allow the future to take centre stage. Elegantly modern soft furnishings and textures, crisp linens on generously sized beds, White Company toiletries in beautiful marbled bathrooms, free wifi and Nespresso coffees. Large flat screen TV’s and thankfully an array of multinational power sockets for every portable device known to man.
Downstairs, the style, elegance and attention to detail is noticeable everywhere, from the relaxed, comfortable lounges where you can enjoy an afternoon tea on the mezzanine balcony or in the tea lounge, or if the weather is kind, out on the terrace overlooking the carriageway courtyard entrance. And you can enjoy the honey from the hotel’s own bee colony up on the roof, and while you’re at it perhaps take in a bee workshop too from St Ermin’s resident expert. Of course, those of you seeking the haunts of notorious spies, might get a little frisson visiting the Caxton Bar, where it is said Kim Philby handed over secrets to his Russian handler.
Finally, the jewel in the crown, St Ermin’s Head Chef Adam Handling, finalist in Britain’s Professional Master Chef TV series , then a mentor to budding amateur finalists and most recently crowned British Culinary Federation Chef of the Year 2014. At just 25, this remarkable Scottish culinary wizard has experience way beyond his tender years, with long stints learning his craft at the legendary Gleneagles, The Fairmont St. Andrews, on board the Crystal Serenity, and working under Gary Rhodes and Heston Blumenthal before touring Asia. Taking a front row seat for dinner in his culinary theatre at The Caxton Grill was a journey of discovery, where unusual combinations of flavours and textures shook hands and conversed together like lifelong companions.
Having said that, the breakfast experience was pretty epic too; a buffet of just baked pastries, smoked salmon, cheeses, breads and the usual hot choices were eminently supported by a cast of perfectly cooked eggs in every style you could wish for.
It is refreshing to be able to report on a hotel which does the big things really well and the simple things even better.
Yes I’m a fan. But then again, when there are secrets and spies about, it pays to stay on the right side. As I reluctantly depart St. Ermin’s Hotel, I cast a glance at that concierge again convinced he gave me a knowing wink. But imagination does that to you I suppose.
Tell me more about St. Ermin’s Hotel?
Superior room with Queen sized bed £209 inc VAT. Some rates can include breakfast. If not full breakfast is £25 or continental £19.
St. Ermin’s Hotel, Caxton Street, London SW1H 0QW,
Tel. +44 (0)20 7222 7888